Richard Pombo, who represented the Lodi area in Congress for 14 years, will seek the 19th Congressional seat held by George Radanovich, R-Mariposa, who announced last week that he won't seek re-election this year.
The 19th District covers parts of Stanislaus, Madera and Fresno counties and all of Tuolumne and Mariposa counties. The district includes northern portions of the cities of Modesto and Fresno.
Although Pombo lives outside the 19th District, he said in an interview Monday that his Tracy cattle ranch is only about 10 miles outside the district.
"I didn't think I would ever run again," Pombo said. "But when George Radanovich announced he wasn't running, my phone rang off the hook."
Pombo, who will turn 49 on Friday, said he decided to run again for Congress after talking to his wife and children about it during the past week.
He thinks he's a better fit in the 19th Congressional District than the 11th, where he lives. The 11th Congressional District was entirely within the Central Valley in the 1990s, but the 2002 reapportionment gave him the San Ramon Valley, parts of the Livermore Valley, plus Morgan Hill.
"I'm a Central Valley guy," Pombo said. "This fits me."
State Sen. Jeff Denham, of Atwater, and former Fresno Mayor Jim Patterson, both Republicans, announced their plans to seek Radanovich's seat, the Fresno Bee reported Monday.
Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, defeated Pombo in 2006, when Pombo was linked to Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who was convicted of conspiracy and fraud.
"(Opponents) may try that again," Pombo said. "In fairness, they threw in any scandal they could think of at me (in 2006). With the whole mess with Abramoff, a couple of dozen people were indicted, and I haven't been tied to any of it."
What Pombo likes about returning to Congress is that he would retain his seniority in the House.
"I'd become the senior guy on the House Resources Committee," Pombo said. "And I'd be senior Republican on the Ag Committee."
After losing his seat in 2006, Pombo worked for Pac/West Communications on what he described as "grassroots stuff." After a year, he returned to his ranch in Tracy and has been a rancher ever since. Since returning to Tracy, Pombo said he consulted with some irrigation districts.